John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce- and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine- and what he will become is far stranger.
Wow! This book was phenomenal and reminded me why I like science fiction. I have been reading a lot of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction and forgot the thrill I got while reading Dune and Ender’s Game. SciFi, I apologize for neglecting you. John Scalzi, after reading Unlocked, Lock In and now Old Man’s War, you are now among my favorite SciFi authors.
You can read the summary for yourself if you want, but it leaves out a very important detail. Therefore, I will write my own summary. At the age of 75, you have the option to join an interstellar military. Why on Earth would a 75 year old join the military during a time of war? Because you will be young again. How is that possible? You won’t know until you sign the dotted line, reach the ripe old age of 75 and leave Earth… forever. Yep, that’s the catch. You will never be allowed to return to Earth.
If you join, you are committed to 2-10 years of service and then you will become a colonist on another planet. 10 years max, possibly dying in battle rather than watching your body slowly deteriorate… a no brainer, right? Except you don’t know exactly who or what you are fighting until after you have left Earth. Why all the secrecy? Read the book and find out.
I don’t know about you, but 314 pages is a short book for me. However, even if that is a little on the longer side for you, it reads extremely fast. I did not want to put this book down. In addition, it’s probably a good book for readers new to science fiction. It doesn’t go overboard and the worlds and story are not as intricate as, say, Dune. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some really good discussions to be had. In fact, I will post some discussion questions as well.
There is some non-graphic sex and a little bit of detailed violence. Old Man’s War is the first in the Old Man’s War series, which continues into The Human Division series. It looks like there are 19 books in the series so far and I intend to read every single one.
Reviewed by Christina Galvez
March 8, 2015